1200 years of decadal-scale variability of Mediterranean vegetation and climate at Pantelleria Island, Italy

Calò, Camilla; Henne, Paul Daniel; Eugster, Patricia; van Leeuwen, Jacqueline F. N.; Gilli, Adrian; Hamann, Yvonne; La Mantia, Tommaso; Pasta, Salvatore; Vescovi, Elisa; Tinner, Willy (2013). 1200 years of decadal-scale variability of Mediterranean vegetation and climate at Pantelleria Island, Italy. Holocene, 23(10), pp. 1477-1486. Los Angeles, Calif.: Sage 10.1177/0959683613493935

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A new sedimentary sequence from Lago di Venere on Pantelleria Island, located in the Strait of Sicily between Tunisia and Sicily was recovered. The lake is located in the coastal infra-Mediterranean vegetation belt at 2 m a.s.l. Pollen, charcoal and sedimentological analyses are used to explore linkages among vegetation, fire and climate at a decadal scale over the past 1200 years. A dry period from ad 800 to 1000 that corresponds to the ‘Medieval Warm Period’ (WMP) is inferred from sedimentological analysis. The high content of carbonate recorded in this period suggests a dry phase, when the ratio of evaporation/precipitation was high. During this period the island was dominated by thermophilous and drought-tolerant taxa, such as Quercus ilex, Olea, Pistacia and Juniperus. A marked shift in the sediment properties is recorded at ad 1000, when carbonate content became very low suggesting wetter conditions until ad 1850–1900. Broadly, this period coincides with the ‘Little Ice Age’ (LIA), which was characterized by wetter and colder conditions in Europe. During this time rather mesic conifers (i.e. Pinus pinaster), shrubs and herbs (e.g. Erica arborea and Selaginella denticulata) expanded, whereas more drought-adapted species (e.g. Q. ilex) declined. Charcoal data suggest enhanced fire activity during the LIA probably as a consequence of anthropogenic burning and/or more flammable fuel (e.g. resinous Pinus biomass). The last century was characterized by a shift to high carbonate content, indicating a change towards drier conditions, and re-expansion of Q. ilex and Olea. The post-LIA warming is in agreement with historical documents and meteorological time series. Vegetation dynamics were co-determined by agricultural activities on the island. Anthropogenic indicators (e.g. Cerealia-type, Sporormiella) reveal the importance of crops and grazing on the island. Our pollen data suggest that extensive logging caused the local extinction of deciduous Quercus pubescens around ad1750.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS) > Palaeoecology
08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Plant Sciences (IPS)

UniBE Contributor:

Calò, Camilla; Henne, Paul Daniel; van Leeuwen, Jacqueline; Vescovi, Elisa and Tinner, Willy

Subjects:

500 Science > 580 Plants (Botany)

ISSN:

0959-6836

Publisher:

Sage

Language:

English

Submitter:

Peter Alfred von Ballmoos-Haas

Date Deposited:

04 Nov 2013 18:38

Last Modified:

02 Jan 2015 03:17

Publisher DOI:

10.1177/0959683613493935

BORIS DOI:

10.7892/boris.38695

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/38695

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